Challenges for a physically disabled person from getting mental health help


The following article brings into light the challenges faced by people with restricted movement. Access to better mental health and their mental well-being are critical to keeping them safe from depression and anxiety. Depression is estimated to affect more women with disabilities, with estimates ranging from 30% to 59%. According to Healthy People 2010, women with disabilities were more likely to show feelings of sadness, unhappiness, or depression, which discouraged them from being active, compared to women without disabilities. The case study elaborates on the same. Heather Kerstetter, 30, began having suicide ideation during a "really tough" period in her life. The thoughts began to scare her, and one day she looked at her dog and thought, she needs to get help. She went to the only psychiatric emergency room she knew in Austin, Texas, where she was living. She recalled, "The very first thing that they said to me was 'It was a good thing that you can't commit suicide anyway, right?'" She was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy type 3, uses a wheelchair and personal care assistant. Kerstetter said the doctors assumed that because of her physical disability she did not need emergency help for her mental health. She told the doctors, "Just because I'm disabled doesn't mean that these things are not very realistic for me. I would die if you send me home. I don't think you are hearing from me." She was sent back home after an hour as they do not have a caretaker at the psychiatric emergency room who could help Kerstetter. But they did not allow Kerstetter to bring her own personal care assistant. She credits her dog for getting through that night. "It was incredibly bad. I didn't eat. I didn't shower. It was a very dark and ugly time." A Universal problem that needs special attention Kerstetter isn't alone in this experience. she uses social media to advocate policy and began talking about her experience. That's when others started reaching out and told her their own similar stories. "It's incredibly troubling because if it was just me and it was just an isolated incident, I feel that it is something that can be acceptable," she said. "Hospitals are not even considering the needs of the disabled," Kerstetter added. Depression and suicidal ideation are more likely among people with disabilities due to factors like abuse, isolation, and stressors related to poverty. One study found that suicidality was seen as significantly more acceptable for people with disabilities. Live On, a disability-led web-based movement is trying to reach out to people with disabilities and tackle that misconception by showing that people with disabilities can lead happy, fulfilling lives. Using #LiveOn people connect on social media and share their stories. Lawyer and activist Dynah Haubert shared her story after being diagnosed with Friedreich's ataxia 14 years ago on the movement's YouTube page. "Even though 14 years ago I was really scared," she said. "Today, I love my life." She goes on to talk about being a lawyer, speaking at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and being a cat mom. She said, "I hope that you realize that just because you may have an injury or been diagnosed with a disability, that is not the end of your life as you know it." "Please live on because we need you too," said Haubert.

Trouble getting through the doors Like Kerstetter, other people with disabilities often struggle to get mental help. Ian Watlington, senior disability advocacy specialist at National Disability Rights Network, has spoken about automatically screen people with disabilities for depression at certain points in their lives to make sure they get the treatment they need early on. Watlington said, "It is an outbreak. It is hard to explain to some of my non-disabled peers that once that isolation kicks in, it's really hard to climb out." Sometimes the accessibility starts even before getting inside the doctor's office. Watlington said transportation options are often limited and there can problems with older buildings having only stairs or doors aren't wide enough. He said the Americans with Disability Act, passed in 1990, has helped, but it's far from where it needs to be. "This is a quality of life issue. This is about people's most fundamental rights," said Watlington. Lisa lezzoni, MD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said many of the obstacles doctors might have served people with disabilities already have solutions - they just need to be available. For example, lezzoni said, for someone who has limited or no upper body mobility, pressing a nurse call button might not be an option. Instead, there are alternatives, like a sip and puff device that allows people to call nurses using their lips. "But that needs to be set up perfectly. A lot of places are just not familiar with doing that," she said. For Kerstetter, she would have been able to get the accessibility help through a tech had she been admitted to a hospital wing of the building. On the other side, in the psychiatric department, this was not an option. lezzoni said, "Psychiatric hospitals have plenty of nurses who give out meds, but those nurses are not equipped, trained and paid to do the job of what tech does." In the long term, Watlington hopes there is an incentive for doctors who study more on people with a disability or go into certain specialties. He thinks this will allow people with disabilities to have more options and help tackle some of the inexperienced doctors often have. Today, Kerstetter has gotten the help she needs and is about to graduate from Temple University, Pennsylvania, with her masters in social work. She hopes of sharing her story will get hospitals to really think about the people they serve. She said "It's not just about people who are able-bodied. It can happen to anybody at any time." Solution for Depression and Anxiety Take care of an animal: They are no substitution for human relations but they can bring joy and companionship into your life and help you feel less isolated. If you are unable to have a pet then animal companionship including volunteering at your local animal shelter. Develop new hobbies and activities that make your mood happy: A disability can make the activities you used to enjoy more difficult and even impossible. But staying engaged in activities will make a big difference to your mental well-being. It can be creative ways to exercise and you can consult your doctor for the same. Even a small physical activity can relieve stress and anxiety. Find ways to acknowledge family and friends: You often might be taking help from those who care about your well-being. An object to acknowledging their effort even with a self-made thanks card would make you happier and content. Don't compare yourself with others: Do not compare your exercise effort with others or to yourself in the past. The only way to monitor your progress is to compare yourself with today and yesterday. Eating Habits A nutritious diet can help you when you fighting with an injury or physical limitation. Eating a nutritious diet can keep you healthy and energetics. Eat plenty of proteins: Protein is essential for healing and proper function of the immune system. Focus on sources like dairy products, beans, nuts, seeds, and soy products. Drink ample amount of water: Water is necessary for the proper functioning of the body. Water flushes out waste products and toxins from our body. Minimize sugar and junk food: You may like sugar and junk food but these lead to a crash in mood and energy. Eating them once or twice may not lead to such effects. Adapt to fix a schedule for sleep: Sticking to 10 PM to 6 AM reduces stress and depression issues. This works not only for people with limited mobility but also for normal people doing the sitting job.